I remember the first time I had a health club membership. I had my gym bag and my membership key tag on my key ring. I came in the front door with a little swagger. I was proud of my health club membership. I strolled to the desk and I scanned my key tag and gave the desk attendant that look that says, “Yeah, that’s right, I’m a member here.” I remember having conversations with others that were set up perfectly for me to mention, “Yeah, I’m a member at ___________ Club.” That was really impressive until someone asked me when the last time I visited my health club!
Membership has its privileges is what we’re taught in our culture. In our small groups (and in our churches as a whole) we’ve brought that same attitude with us. We don’t want to let the “riff-raff” in to mess up our “intimacy”. And come to find out, intimacy is just a word we use to mean “make believe world where none of us have issues.” We carry around this fake entitlement that let’s other fakers in and keeps people with real problems out. Why don’t we see this for what it really is? When we pull back the facade it is really obvious that it’s not real community. I think we have gotten comfortable in a group where you don’t ask about what’s really going on in my life and I won’t ask about what’s really going on in your life. Except we are all holding on to struggle and hurt at times in our lives and to argue this or ignore it just causes us more pain and holds us back in our spiritual lives.
Truth be told, I’ve experienced pain just like the guy we don’t want to let in our exclusive party. I’ve struggled with sin just that gal who needs to be in authentic community to encourage her to make positive changes in her life.
Jesus was so great at this. Not only did he let everyone into his party, he took the party to the people that needed to be there. He didn’t care that the religious leaders didn’t think that he should be hanging around “sinners”. He knew where He needed to be.
I know that I’ve been bringing a lot of Dietrich Bonhoeffer lately, but he has so much to say to our Christian communities. Here, he takes the truth and whacks us right between the eyes…
The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ.
How does that sit with you? What does it make you want to do?